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Yes! But Royo kept his weary eyes on Hector, wary of becoming too hopeful.

“Do you think the Hidden One will abuse Secho’s power?” said Malast.

And to Royo’s surprise, Hector did not immediately say yes.

Instead, the Senmurai hesitated. “I... ah...”

Royo was confused to see such apparent meekness from him, but he didn’t let the opportunity escape. “You needn’t worry. I give you my word that I will not abuse Secho’s power.”

Malast regarded Royo with a flat look. “Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. But if that is the Iron One’s concern, then I can understand it. And though the tournament seems to have reached a premature end, I believe it is obvious enough that the Iron One would have been the victor.”

Royo wished he could’ve argued with that, but he could imagine that if he did, Malast would call his bluff and force them to go fight. And that was precisely what Royo had been trying to avoid this whole time.

“As such,” the Idle God went on, “since I will be giving his prize to another, the Iron One deserves a different prize. A prize which may one day serve to check yours, Hidden One, should you ever decide to misuse it.”

Royo Raju exchanged looks with the Senmurai.

They said nothing. It felt as if they didn’t need to.

For his part, Royo sensed a kind of silent understanding between them.

A prize to check his own.

Royo wasn’t in love with the idea, but he doubted he would ever get a better offer. And though he didn’t know what was going through the Senmurai’s head right now, he had a feeling that Hector felt the same way.

But it felt like more than that, too. Somehow.

He had never put much stock in prophecies, but he was a believer in destiny. He had never thought that mere mortals could--or even should--see what awaited them in the future. Destiny was important and meaningful, but spending one’s time trying to predict it was folly, he felt.

Yet now, he did not know how else to explain this feeling. Perhaps it was because there were more than just “mere mortals” present. Whatever the case, it made him feel as if his destiny was being inextricably bound to this person. As if, one day, the Senmurai would become either his greatest ally or greatest foe.

He wondered if the Senmurai was feeling similarly in this moment. He almost considered using the Piercing Eye to try to find out.

Then, after the moment passed, the Idle God, He Who Sits, did something that no one was expecting him to do.

He stood.

“Alright,” said Malast as he walked over to the Senmurai, “let’s see here...” He reached out with one hand.

The Senmurai, rather understandably, recoiled away from him.

Malast took notice and paused there. “Fear not. I will do you no harm. Allow me to place my hand upon you.”